Postdoctoral Research Scientist
I joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab in 2015 fall as a Ph.D. graduate student. I am working in Arabidopsis and its related extremophile (Schrenkiella parvula) to study abiotic stress tolerance. I am using modern molecular biology and comparative genomics tool. I completed my MS from University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 2015 May. I worked on down-regulation of lignin biosynthetic genes particularly Cinnamyl Alcohol Dehydrogenase (CAD) and Cinnamoyl-CoA Reductase (CCR) in big bluestem grass, a potential feedstock for biofuel. I completed my undergraduate degree from Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Nepal in 2012.
I joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab in 2021 Fall as a Ph.D. student. I am studying the convergent evolution of the halophytes using molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques. We have a highly diverse halophyte community, and these plants are phylogenetically distinct in a considerable way. However, all these halophytes share a common adaptive trait of being tolerant to high salt concentrations and can survive under extreme environmental conditions. Currently, I am trying to see whether there is a genomic level convergent evolution between these salt-tolerant plants and if so, what are the responsible positively selected genes, as well as what are the evolutionary mechanisms behind those selections. I achieved my undergraduate degree in Bioinformatics from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2020.
I joined Dassanayake’s lab in 2021 Fall for my Ph.D. program. I finished my undergraduate and my MS in Biotechnology at Nong Lam University (NLU), Vietnam. I am interested in creating abiotic stress-tolerant plants, so working in this lab gives me the chance to fulfill my dream. I am currently working on molecular biology techniques like CRISPR to make transgenic/gene-edited lines with salt tolerance traits in two research model plants: Arabidopsis thaliana, and Schrenkiella parvula.
I joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab in 2022 Fall as a Ph.D. student. I graduated from LSU with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in geology in 2019. I am helping to pioneer a Planetary Geobiology Ph.D. program here at LSU, where I will be studying how plants grow and adapt to extreme environments with high levels of magnesium, like serpentine soils here on Earth and areas on Mars for future manned missions. I am also co-advised by Dr. Suniti Karunatillake of the Planetary Science Lab in the Geology and Geophysics Department here at LSU.
Richard S Garcia
Before I joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab in Fall 2022, I had previously worked on agricultural crops such as rice, sorghum, maize and foxtail millet at International Rice Research Institute and LSU-Agricultural Center. I finished my BS in Biology and MS in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of the Philippines. Basically, I have been in plant science research for a while; also, I love plants. Right now, I want to realize my research ideas in understanding plant abiotic stresses for my PhD. Here at Dr. Dassanayake’s lab I will have that opportunity. I will be using brassica extremophyte species using transcriptomic, ionomic and metabolomic studies to understand the physiology, biochemistry and underlying mechanisms of plant abiotic stress tolerance.
In fall 2022, I started my PhD program in planetary geobiology under the supervision of Dr. Suniti Karunathillake, majoring in geology and minoring in biology under Dr. Maheshi Dassanayake's guidance. At the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka, I studied geology as my major for my undergraduates. Working in this facility allows me to pursue my passion of growing plants in extreme environments such as Mars. I am now researching the geological settings of two research model plants, Arabidopsis thaliana and Schrenkiella parvula, in their natural habitats.
I joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab in the Fall of 2022 as a PhD student. I attained my undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University in May of 2022. There, I worked in the herbarium and became curious about how different plants adapt to their environment. In the Dassanayake lab, I am able to work with the halophytes Schrenkiella parvula and Eutrema salsaginium which are considered the experts at adapting to extreme environments such as soil with high salt and low essential nutrients like phosphorus. These stresses have been studied respectively, but often in nature these types of abiotic stresses occur at the same time. Therefore, my research will focus on understanding the underlying mechanisms of plants growing in more than one stress condition. I will achieve this research aim by comparing the halophytes Schrenkiella parvula and Eutrema salsaginium in singular and combined stresses using a plethora of transcriptomic and genetic tool
My name is Ashley Doan and I am a Junior majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Textiles and Fashion Merchandising. I joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab because I wanted to gain more experience in lab work and research and ultimately broaden my knowledge about biology. I am also interested in how this research correlates to the rapidly changing environment. I have learned a lot of things so far in the lab, such as sterilizing seeds and growing and maintaining plants. Outside of the lab, I enjoy watching documentaries and going to the UREC.
My name is August Steinkamp and I majoring in microbiology with an interest in medicine. I am currently being trained to work in Dr. Dassanayake’s lab through PFLR. I am extremely interested in the medical potential of stem cells. Outside of science, in my spare time I enjoy playing guitar, cooking, and running.
I am a Biochemistry major minoring in Physics who joined Dr. Dassanayake’s lab in early 2021 as I found the transformation research they were doing really interesting. Since then I’ve been phenotyping the species Schrenkiella parvula, Eutrema salsugineum, and Arabidopsis thaliana when exposed to different concentrations of Na+.
Hi! My name is Sylvie and I'm a Biology major in the LSU Ogden Honors College with a double minor in Philosophy and Sociology. My biggest reason for joining Dr. Dassanayake's lab is my interest in genetics, as well as having the opportunity to gain neat experience in research. After completing my undergraduate studies, my goal is to get into graduate school so I can continue to study subjects in the field of genetics. In my free time, I really enjoy spending time with my friends, binge watching shows or movies, and occasionally trying to teach myself how to cook.
Former lab members
Past postdocs, graduate students, and lab managers
Dr. Guannan Wang, Postdoc (2020-2023)
Chathura Wijesinghage, Graduate student (2016-2022)
Dr. Dong-Ha Oh, Research assistant professor (2013-2022)
Dr. Kieu-Nga Tran, Postdoc (2021-2022)
Kieu-Nga Tran, Graduate student (2015-2021)
Guannan Wang, Graduate student (2014-2020)
Dr. Narender Kumar, Postdoc (2015 - 2017)
Swati Tyagi, Lab manager (2015 - 2017)
Sandra DiTusa, Lab manager (2014-2015)
Dr. Subbaiah Chalivendra, Postdoc (2013 - 2014)
Past undergraduate students
Khadijah Taite - 2022-2022 (Biology Major)
Saad Chaudhari- 2018-2022 (Pre-med, biochemistry major)
Todd Thibodaux- 2018-2022 (Microbiology major)
Megan Guilbeau--2018-2021 (President's Student Aid, Biology Major)
Jordan Vivien-- 2016-2020 (President's Student Aid, Biology Major)
Christine Tran -- 2017-2020 (Biology Major)
Sravya Pochana- 2017-2018 (President's Student Aid, Biology Major)
Cally Quick- 2017-2018 (President's Student Aid, Biology Major)
Ashley Clement- 2017-2018 (Biology Major)
Delaney Campagna- 2016-2018 (Biology Major)
Lauren Taylor –2015 -2017, graduated Dec 2017 (Honors College; Chancellor's Aide; Biology Major)
John Johnson –2014 – 2017, graduated May 2017 (Honors College; Chancellor's Aide; Biochemistry Major)
Cameron Fleur –2015 -2017, graduated May 2017 (Biology Major)
Harel Schwartzberg – 2017 Spring (Biology Major)
Melody Salmanian - 2015-2017 (Honors College; Chancellor's Aide; Microbiology Major)
Matthew Johnson –2014 -2016, graduated May 2016 (McNair Scholar; BIOL 3999; Biology Major)
Madison Boudreaux – 2014 -2016, graduated May 2016 (BIOL 3999; Honors College; Chancellor's Aide; Biology Major)
Blake Delacroix –2015 Fall- 2016 Fall (Honors College; Biochemistry Major)
Trey Leiva –2016 Spring (Volunteer; Biology Major)
Sadie Thompson –2016 Spring (Volunteer; Biology Major)
Emily Asbury –2015 (BIOL 3999; Conservation Sciences Major)
Vaibhav Rajora - 2015 Fall (Physics major)
Kieu-Nga Tran – 2014-2015, graduated May 2015 (Biology Major)
Ross Kelt – 2014 -2015, graduated May 2015 (Biology Major)
Mary Bergeron- 2014 (Biology Major)
Kendall Dicke – 2013 (Engineering Major)
Stephanie Presedo (School of Veterinary Medicine)
Thuy-Mai Nguyen – 2013 Fall, graduated December 2013 (Biology Major)
Michele F da Silva- University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, SP, Brazil ; Dissertation research; August, 2022
Dr. Patrick Finnegan – University of Western Australia; Sabbatical research; Oct – December 2017
Michelle Arland - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel - Ph.D. advisee of Gidon Winters and Simon Barak; Dissertation research; Jun-Sep 2017
Mariana Vargas Cruz - Univ. Est de Campinas, Brazil - Ph.D. advisee of Anete Pereira de Souza; Dissertation research; Feb – August, 2016
Gil Eshel – Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel - Ph.D. advisee of Simon Barak; Dissertation research; Jan-Feb 2016